Character/s: Arthur, Merlin
Summary: Merlin had walked away
Word Count: 565
Prompt: Come Wake Me Up
Author's Notes: So, more angsty. I like this angsty prompt! Another!
Merlin had walked away.
It was always going to happen, really, with the way Arthur hesitated over changing the laws on magic, the way he put it off with increasing frustration and yet another soon, Merlin, don’t rush the people. And if that had been the reason, the real reason, then maybe Merlin would never have left. But part of it was Arthur, and the mental block he faced when hit with the word magic.
Ironically enough, it was Merlin’s decision to leave that prompted Arthur to finally pass the laws that would have let him live as his true self in happiness. But it was too late. And by the time the news reached Merlin he would be long gone, with a new life, a life where he could be true to himself and not want to hide.
The thought of his long, pale fingers on someone else, another hand running through his already messy hair, stabbed through Arthur like a sharpened block of ice. But the thought of his eyes glowing gold whenever he willed it, whenever he felt like drawing on his power, melted the ice, softened the blow, just a little.
Still, he missed Merlin like nothing ever before. The knights noticed it. The way he withdrew from them, handed their training over to Leon, or to Gwaine. The council noticed it, in the way he let them decide everyday matters for him. Nothing he did could quite drown out the emptiness where Merlin should be, at his elbow, tripping over something or spilling the wine.
Arthur found a new manservant, installed him at a respectful distance. He held himself upright and he never spilt anything. It made Arthur sick, but he was a King, he had to get on with these things because Merlin was never coming back.
Still, whenever he closed his eyes it was there, the image of Merlin retreating from sight, burned into his eyes, echoing even in the light like a ghost. Retreating away from him, and never looking back.
Merlin came back as soon as he heard.
It took a while, because he’d been avoiding all news from Camelot. He knew if he heard about Arthur, he’d just go running back, but he knew the life waiting for him was too much for him. He couldn’t cope any more, and Arthur was never going to change.
Only, weeks after the actual event, he found that Arthur had.
He sold all he owned, used all the money he’d made selling medicines, and bought a horse to ride for Camelot.
The knights let him in on sight. It was clear that Leon didn’t know what to do, with a King barely ever waking from his slumber, walking the castle in a daze. They turned to enchantment, but Merlin knew it wasn’t that. It was Arthur, being a melodramatic clotpole of a princess yet again.
He’d arrived in the early morning, when Arthur had still not risen, but Leon let him into the royal chambers anyway.
Merlin sat on the edge of his bed and blocked out the morning sunlight. He leaned down and kissed Arthur, softly, on the corner of his mouth.
“You prat. You utter prat. Stop this, now, you’re not dying without me.”
“If I wasn’t dying, you wouldn’t come back.”
“Oh, Arthur,” Merlin said, and he kissed him properly, “You changed your mind.”